Nevada’s first presidential primary in decades generated light voter turnout, as early and mail-in ballots propelled Democrats ahead while Republicans started to shift their focus to an upcoming caucus on Thursday. Just 3,800 voters showed up at the polls in the first three hours of voting on Tuesday, a disappointing figure for the day. Importantly, President Joe Biden faced minimal opposition in the Democratic race, and GOP front-runner Donald Trump wasn’t on the ballot for his party. The low turnout of 125,000 in the Democratic primary and 80,000 in the Republican primary highlighted concerns in Nevada. Nevada Republicans sought to select national convention delegates through separate caucuses on Thursday, marking a change in strategy for the 2024 election cycle, after state lawmakers decided to adopt a primary election format.
The lack of interest appeared to stem from various factors, including adverse weather conditions and competing viewership from Las Vegas’ Super Bowl. Confusion also plagued some Republican voters, with a choice between candidates and the selection of “None of These Candidates,” an option on the primary election ballot to show support for Trump. The disparity between the low turnout in Nevada compared to the more than 450,000 votes cast during the New Hampshire primary highlighted key differences in early voting activity across states. Despite the haphazard turnout, Democrats believe they’ve made progress, as early and mail-in turnout nearly mirrored that of the 2020 competitive Democratic caucuses.
Democratic leaders expressed optimism about their organizational outreach to critical voter constituencies, noting Nevada’s importance as a general election battleground. Still, many worried that early engagement and robust voter participation would be necessary to solidify their nominee’s prospects in November. The low turnout ultimately underscored the campaign’s doubts and the conflicted local opinion on the effectiveness of the recent primary election format.